I've gotten a couple questions about maxi dresses recently - so I thought I'd do a bit of a master post.  So here goes.

Reader Kumquat Weekend asks:

Oh illustrious TCFKAG, can you please advise? I just bought two lovely maxi dresses. Solid colours. Cap sleeved, U-neck... they look like really, really, really long t-shirts. T-shirts that flow and drape and make me look like a queen. How on earth can I accessorize these for work? Sweaters? Blazers? Shoes? Belts? Necklaces? Any/all of the above? (I know maxies are often considered a workplace no-no, but my environment is business casual and I'm willing to risk it.)

Hello Ms. Weekend! So, I will address this first - and I will start with a confession, if you had asked me six months ago I would have said "I really don't think that maxi dresses are work appropriate, even at a biz casual office."  But then I joined Tumblr and started following some hijabi and otherwise conservative dressing fashion blogs and realized I had been so-so dumb!  I've seen so many women absolutely styling maxi dresses in awesomely stylish and beautiful manners.  I'm a big fan.  A few ideas with the dresses you've described based on what I've seen on those websites.  (1) I would probably pair them with a blazer - something fitted and maybe with those sleeves that role up and reveal another fabric or are scrunched up (not too formal but still adding a little structure.)  (2)  I think adding a belt, something wider and leather or perhaps with a design, would be a really nice way to add structure to the dress and add some formality without too much weight or a ton of cost (plus it adds definition at the waist, which is nice with something like a maxi dress.)  (3)  For scoop neck dresses, I think that substantial, statement dresses are really nice for work.  Not only does it add interest to the neckline, it covers up a bit (which is nice).  You could also add a scarf if that's something you like.  I think that big bangle bracelets would also be nice (especially with a three-quarter-sleeve jacket.)  Finally (4) in terms of shoes, I think the key is to wear either closed toe pumps or a formal sandal - not something flat like gladiator sandals or something that reads "beachy."  You don't want people to think you're going work to beach to night (no matter what Lucky Magazine says you should do.)  Here are some pictures with inspiration, if you're interested.
Here are the sources of the images above:
Mango Chutney (Archive - the 70s)
Simple Modesty (Archives)
My Dress Ways (Archives)
All are cute outfits that I think are super work appropriate (don't read into two of them being green - just random chance.)

Reader B questions:

Hi TCFKAG, I am looking for a long (or 3/4) sleeved maxi dress. I prefer a printed chiffon, but I am not really committed to a specific fabric or print. I need it for a wedding in Indiana (I'm expecting hot and humid) in June, so something wedding appropriate (not a lot of white). I've looked at my usual haunts, and am coming up empty. Since I need it by the end of this month, I have to either be able to get it in store, or shipped within a two week timeframe. Any ideas for me? I'd like to keep it under $100, but definitely under $150.  I'm looking for a L/XL or 12/14.  I love this one, but its out of my budget: Rachel Zoe Silk Maxi Dress.  I also fell in love with this and was going to buy it, but its not available: Rachel Pally Aurora Print Maxi Dress.

For those shopping along at home, these are the dresses that Reader B is inspired by.
Those are both lovely - I especially love the Rachel Pally dress - lets find you a few options.
First Kiss Print Maxi Dress at Free People ($148)
Hive & Honey Striped Knit Maxi at Piperlime ($69 - might be too fitted, but definitely within budget.)
Christin Michaels Kelley Dress at Zappos ($69 - I know, no sleeves, maybe a light shrug?)
Oasis Chiffon Floral Print Maxi Dress at ASOS ($129 - So pretty, also maybe with a shrug?)
ASOS Petite Pleated Maxi Skirt at ASOS ($59.85 - a different suggestion - maybe a skirt with a silk blouse?)

So, I feel like I haven't completely met your requirements.  There aren't that many out there with sleeves right now!  I wonder if its the season - summer maxi dresses are more short sleeved or sleeveless maybe?  Readers - have you seen anything that would fit Readers B's needs?

And finally - since I've looked at lots of maxi dresses - here are a few that I liked that might be nice for summer.
5/5/2013 06:12:07

You slip those chevrons in for me, don't you? I love hate you.

Yo KW, a vest/waistcoat can be a cool way to make a maxi dress look more structured. Tcfkag's point about the shoes is so key. Real shoes to the office.

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5/7/2013 05:45:25

Oh thank you, thank you! Necklaces, hey? Dang, those are effective. Who knew? (You, obvs.)

So: Structured blazer/sweater, belt, necklace, proper shoes, vest (ta, Ru!). I will assemble an arsenal.

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Leigh
5/7/2013 21:40:06

Reader B here, Thank you for those suggestions! I ended up finding one on eBay that was somewhat close to what I want. There really aren't many out there right now, so thank you for checking for me :) I came *so close* to getting the striped one, but thought it might be a bit too casual.

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